To me, “augmented reality” always sounds like the advertising gumph of some sort of hideous latex sex-aid, possibly with a USB plug because everything else seems to have one of the damn things these days. However Nokia Research would like us to consider it in slightly less X-rated terms – superimposing data onto an image of your surroundings in real-time. Using a 6680 handset modified to include accelerometers, compass and GPS, the team has put together a proof-of-concept system which monitors the location of the phone and overlays virtual information tagged to different objects as shown on the display from the camera’s POV.
URLs can be associated with objects, giving quick access to local information, and the device can both use data locally-stored or from a remote server. The latter would allow applications such as “find a friend”, where the moving location of another object could be streamed to a user’s cellphone. The prototype also has map functionality, accessed by holding the handset horizontally, which highlights the user’s location and annotates nearby points of interest. There are streaming videos of different functionality on the Research page, linked below.
While exciting as it is, the future of the project promises even greater things: computer vision based hybrid tracking with stereo vision and surround sound, OpenGL ES graphics and mRTK relative positioning. With phones like Helio’s Drift already shipping with GPS and basic “Buddy Beacon” friend-locating technology, this research shows just how seriously Nokia is taking the convergence of real and virtual worlds.